The first set of national building standards was introduced in 1965. Now known as the building regulations, they set out:
- What qualifies as ‘building work’ and so fall under the control of the regulations.
- What types of buildings are exempt (such as temporary buildings).
- The notification procedures that must be followed when starting, carrying out, and completing building work.
- Requirements for specific aspects of building design and construction.
In England, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) is responsible for the Building Regulations 2010 and The Building (Approved Inspectors etc.) Regulations 2010. The regulations apply to most new buildings and many alterations to existing buildings.
The requirements are set out in Schedule 1 of the regulations:
Requires buildings to be designed, constructed or altered so as to be structurally safe and robust, and so as not to impair the structural stability of other buildings. It stipulates design standards for use on all buildings and gives simple design rules for most masonry and timber elements for traditional domestic buildings. It includes diagrams of structures such as roof frames and brick walls, and tables of material strengths.
Covers all precautionary measure necessary to provide safety from fires for building occupants, persons in the vicinity of buildings, and firefighters. Requirements and guidance covers means of escape in cases fire, fire detection and warning systems, the fire resistance of structural elements, fire separation, protection, compartmentation and isolation to prevent fire spread, control of flammable materials, and access and facilities for firefighting.
See Approved document B for more information.
 Part C: Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture.
Includes the weather-tightness and water-tightness of buildings, subsoil drainage, site preparation, and measures to deal with contaminated land, radon, methane, and all other site related hazardous and dangerous substances.
 Part D: Toxic substances.
This controls hazards from the toxic chemicals used in cavity fill insulation systems.
See approved document D for more information.
Deals with requirements for sound insulation between buildings, including both new dwellings and the conversion of buildings to form dwellings. These cover sound reduction between rooms for residential purposes and designated rooms in dwellings, and acoustic conditions for common areas in flats and schools.
 Part F: Ventilation.
 Part G: Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency.
Lays down standards for the provision of sanitary and washing facilities, bathrooms and hot water provision. It also covers safety requirements in respect to unvented hot water systems.
See Approved Document G for more information.
Requires that adequate drainage, and also deals with pollution prevention and sewage infrastructure and maintenance. Technical design standards cover sanitary pipework, foul drainage, rainwater drainage and disposal, wastewater treatment, and discharges and cesspools.
 Part J: Heat producing appliances and Fuel storage system.
Covers the construction, installation and use of boilers, chimneys, flues, hearths and fuel storage installations. Also requirements to control fire sources and prevent burning, pollution, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc.
 Part K: Protection from falling, collision and impact.
Set standards for the safety of stairways, ramps and ladders, together with requirements for balustrading, windows, and vehicle barriers to prevent falling. Also include are requirements for guarding against and warning of, hazards from the use and position of doors and windows.
 Part L: Conservation of fuel and power.
Controls the insulation values of buildings elements, the allowable area of windows, doors and other opening, the air permeability of the structure, the heating efficiency of boilers, hot water storage and lighting. It also controls mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems, space heating controls, airtightness testing of larger buildings, solar emission, the certification, testing and commissioning of heating and ventilation systems, and requirements for energy meters. It also sets requirements for Carbon Index ratings.
See Approved Document L for more information.
 Part M: Access to and use of buildings.
Requires the inclusive provision of ease of access to, and circulation within, all buildings, together with requirements for facilities for disabled people.
See Approved Document M for more information.
(Withdrawn on 6 April 2013 other than in Wales where it still applies).
Lays down the requirements for the use of safety glazing to avoid impact hazard and for the suitable awareness and definition of glazed areas. Also included are safety requirements relating to the use and cleaning of windows.
 Part P: Electrical safety.
Covers the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations in order to prevent injuries from electrical shocks and burns, and to prevent injuries arising from fires due to electrical components overheating or arcing.
See Approved Document P for more information.
From 1 October 2015 for use in England, it provides that reasonable provision must be made to resist unauthorised access to any dwelling; and any part of a building from which access can be gained to a flat within the building.
See Approved Document Q for more information.
 Part R: Physical infrastructure for high-speed electronic communication networks.
A requirement for infrastructure enabling the installation of copper or fibre-optic cables or wireless devices capable of delivering broadband speeds of more than 30 Mbps.
See Approved Document R for more information.
 Regulation 7: Materials and workmanship.
See Approved document 7 for more information.
Building Regulations approvals can be sought either from the building control department of the local authority or from an approved inspector. In either case, a fee will be payable, relative to the type of building and the construction cost. Fee schedules can be obtained from the building control department of the local authority. It is now also possible for competent persons to self-certify that their work complies with the building regulations without submitting a building notice or incurring local authority fees.
Generally on larger, new-build projects, a 'full plans' application will be made, meaning that full details of the proposed building works are submitted for approval before the works are carried out. On small projects, or when changes are made to an existing building, approval may be sought by giving a 'building notice'. In this case, a building inspector will approve the works as they are carried out by a process of inspection. This does leave the client at risk that completed works might not be approved, resulting in remedial costs. Full plans approvals are also subject to inspection during the course of the works at stages decided by the local authority (typically during the construction of foundations, damp proof courses and drains and perhaps other key stages), but as long as the work is carried out in accordance with the approved design, the risk of problems is very much reduced.
In the event of disagreement about an approval, a ‘determination’ can be sought (before the works start) from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government or from Welsh Ministers in the Welsh Assembly Government. It is also possible to seek relaxation or dispensation of the regulations from the building control department of the local authority under certain circumstances (see Department for Communities and Local Government guidance).
It is important to ensure that a completion certificate is sought from the approving body as evidence that the works comply with the regulations. NB Under changes to the building regulations made in December 2012, Local Authorities must give completion certificates, they do not need to be requested.
A full plans approval notice is valid for three years from the date of deposit of the plans. This can be very important given the speed at which the regulations change, meaning that a building which has been approved, but not built may require re-design and further approval if construction is delayed and the regulations change.
Failure to comply with the Building Regulations can result in a fine and/or an enforcement notice requiring rectification of the works. There is also a regularisation process for getting approval for works that have been carried out without approval (see Planning Portal guidance).
In Scotland, Scottish Ministers are responsible for the Building Regulations (Building Standards) and associated guidance (ref The Scottish Government: Building Standards). The 32 local authorities administer the Building Standards system and are responsible for granting permissions (Building Warrants) and Completion Certificates.
In Wales, Building Regulations that previously applied to England and Wales continue to apply, but from 01 January 2012, any revisions to the English regulations apply to England only. New regulations and guidance are the responsibility of the Welsh government (ref Welsh Government: Building Regulations). Approvals are granted by the local authorities.
See Welsh building regulations for more information.
 Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 are made by the Department of Finance and Personnel (ref Building Control Northern Ireland). They are administered by the 26 District Councils.
On 14 July 2017, following the Grenfell Tower Fire, the BBC reported that a full review of the building regulations would be undertaken, although it is not clear when this will be officially announced, and it is likely to be complicated by the ongoing police investigation and public inquiry. Ref http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40602991
On 19 July 2017, the Local Goverment Association (LGA) called for the review to be “urgent and immediate”. Lord Porter, LGA Chairman, said; "We cannot wait for the result of the public inquiry or coroner’s report before this review is started. We have to act based on what we know now". Ref https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/lga-calls-urgent-and-immediate-building-regulation-review
On 28 July 2017, Communities Secretary The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP announced an independent review of the building regulations and fire safety. See: Independent review of the building regulations and fire safety for more information.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- ACM cladding.
- Approved documents.
- Approved inspector.
- Building control body.
- Building control performance standards.
- Building notice.
- Building regulations completion certificate.
- Building warrant (Scotland).
- Competent person schemes.
- Grenfell Tower fire.
- How long it takes to get building regulations approval and how long it lasts.
- Independent review of the building regulations and fire safety.
- National Calculation Method.
- Northern Ireland building regulations.
- Planning permission.
- Simplified Building Energy Model.
- Scottish building standards.
- Standard Assessment Procedure.
- Statutory approvals.
- Statutory authorities.
- The Building Act.
- The difference between planning permission building regulations approval.
- Welsh building regulations.
- What approvals are needed before construction begins.
 External references
- Explore the Planning Portal's Interactive House for guidance on many common householder projects. Or see the interactive terrace house, which is more representative of an urban street scene.
- Approved documents can be downloaded from the Planning portal.
- The Communities and Local Government Building Regulations website.
- bd online subscriber-only technical articles about the building regulations.
- Department for Communities and Local Government: Building Regulations, Explanatory booklet. (now archived)
- Local authority building control guidance.
- The Building Regulations in full.
- Department for Communities and Local Government.
- CLG: Determinations and appeals.
- Free online version of Approved Documents from SpecifiedBy
Featured articles and news
Energy from waste and its key role in a low carbon economy.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes was guest speaker at the BSRIA Briefing - Tomorrow’s challenges in today’s buildings.
Read our introductory article to the Common Arrangement of Work Sections. What are they, what are the categories?
Acknowledging the unique requirements of projects in historic environments.
CIAT announces that Alex Naraian has been inaugurated as its new President.
Read our introductory article to the mechanical ventilation of buildings.
Do infrastructure professionals expect too much, or the wrong thing, from their sustainability colleagues?
Government announces new legal powers to give the North a say on how money is spent on transport.
If you are studying a built environment-related degree, we've got hundreds of articles designed to help you out.
Have a look at this lily-shaped building that has been awarded a low carbon certification by BREEAM.
What is dot and dab, and how can the typical defects be recognised and rectified?
How to get beyond the sales pitch and assess supplier sustainability.
Late payment has been a blight on the industry for decades - but what are the causes?